Friday, November 27, 2009

This We Know - Viewing Statistics from Data.gov

There is a tremendous amount of information provided to American citizens. For all of the questions being asked about governmental data the answers are not always easy to find.

Gateway to Data.gov databases.
This We Know is not a government site but is does display governmental data. The website collects information from www.data.gov and presents it in a format that is accessible.

For example, by typing in the zip code of 91106 I quickly found out that:
  • How much pollutants were release in the air and by which companies within the zip code.
  • How many people are unemployed in Pasadena, CA.
  • How many factories are in the area.
The information is drawn from the U.S. Census Bureau, Data.gov and other statistic data bases. It seems to be in the early stages so what you see is what you get. I imagine as time goes on users would be able to ask questions via the website to draw answers form Data.gov.

At least, I hope so.

But if you like your data raw, massive and plum overwhelming there is nothing like going to the source, in this case the Data.gov Tools page:

Tools Catalog via Data.govOn the Tools page is a gateway catalog of the hundreds of governmental websites providing statistical information, information resources and government resources.

You can search by category or by governmental agency. There is a lot of data here. Use what you can, it is for the taking.

Monday, November 02, 2009

CLA Conference 2009 Exhibit Hall - BookScanner

I got a chance to visit the exhibit floor of the California Library Association Conference. With the economy and the rapid changes in the industry I was surprised to see as many vendors as I did.

However, I didn't see e-book device vendors. I did see examples of e-book readers so I was able to view some of the well know devices like the Kindle and the one from Sony.

This is a short video that I recorded on a scanner system that could make a lot of sense to an academic library. This is just for demonstration purposes only, no endorsement is intended or implied.



Maybe this is the sign of the times. I was shocked to learn that the bad apple kind of students have been tearing pages out of reference books and flat out stealing materials.

Maybe a device like this could be set up so that those less than ethical students would not have access to the actual reference book but could acquire the readings that they need for class via a .pdf document.

Now knowing bad apples they way I do I wouldn't necessarily expect that they would pay for their readings. These are the kind of folks that would talk a friend into paying for them with the promise of paying them back later. (Cough!)

Another idea was that this could replace the photocopy machine. Since many students have access to e-mail, USB devices and other recordable media the student or staff member could scan the material and load it into the USB device or save as a .pdf

This could be the same amount of money used to charge for a copy but you wouldn't have the paper and the repair costs associated with the copy machines. Now don't think that the copy machine folks haven't thought about this because there are copy machines that can scan to .pdf and have the document e-mailed to the user.

Well, it is a though. But if you were looking to buy the library a holiday gift I'm thinking this would not be necessarily turned down.